Adventures of the Mind
As well as describing this sequence of events in Moses life, the grand cosmology (v 37 and 38) and the glorious declaration of His work and glory (v39), Moses 1 is also prophetic:
41 And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold, I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men—among as many as shall believe.
Joseph Smith was 'another like unto thee' who God would 'raise up', but how was Joseph raised up? In just the same manner as Moses was. Joseph summarises events between the First Vision and the organizing of the Church in Doctrine and Covenants 128 :-
v20 'And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed. A voice of the Lord in the wilderness of Fayette, Seneca county, declaring the three witnesses to bear record of the book! The voice of Michael on the banks of the Susquehanna, detecting the devil when he appeared as an angel of light! The voice of Peter, James, and John in the wilderness between Harmony, Susquehanna county, and Colesville, Broome county, on the Susquehanna river, declaring themselves as possessing the keys of the kingdom, and of the dispensation of the fulness of times!'
I quoted the whole verse because it puts in chronological sequence the time when Satan tried to deceive the young prophet. Though no further details are given I have little doubt that Satan revealed himself for the same purpose as he did to Moses, to persuade Joseph to worship him, after all Satan is the god of this world who could no doubt have endowed Joseph and his family with all they could ever need in this life. But in this case Michael came to the rescue and Joseph was soon endowed with the knowledge and power required for him to fulfil his mission.
Back to Hugh Nibley. Consider this intervention of Michael, who we know is Adam, as I include the following. In Nibley’s essay on Moses 1 he writes about an event shortly after the time when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. I quote from his essay:
‘Perhaps the oldest of Adam traditions are those collected from all over the ancient East at a very early time, which have reached us in later Ethiopian and Arabic manuscripts under the title of, ‘The combat of Adam and Eve against Satan’. (Nibley then quotes side by side references from the book of Moses and paraphrased quotations from these manuscripts. Those I quote here are just from these other writings which are particularly interesting to us.)
‘Satan, seeing them at prayer, appears to them in a great light and sets up his throne on the site, thus claiming the earth as his kingdom while his followers sing hymns of praise.
Adam, puzzled, prays for light, asking: Can this be another God here hailed by his angels? An angel of the Lord arrives and says: Fear not, Adam, what you see is Satan and his companions who wish to seduce you again. First he appeared to you as a serpent and now he wants you to worship him so he can draw you after him away from God.
Then the angel exposed and humiliated Satan in Adam’s presence and cast him out saying to Adam: God who created you will strengthen you.
The next morning, as Adam prayed with upraised hands, Satan appeared to him saying: ‘Adam, I am an angel of the great God. The Lord has sent me to you.’ (It was his plan to kill Adam and thus remain sole master and possessor of the earth.) But God sent three heavenly messengers to Adam bringing him the signs of the priesthood and kingship. Adam wept because they reminded him of his departed glory, but God said they were signs of the atonement to come, whereupon Adam rejoiced.
No matter how he may be maligned and discarded, Joseph was God’s prophet for the latter days. He came at a time when the world would begin to discard the words of God as ‘of naught’. I echo John Taylor who said,
‘Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.’ I certainly believe this to be true.
God works the same way now as in ages past, sending from his presence those chosen before the world was and then raising them up when they are born into mortality. He does this now by the same process as for Adam, Abraham, Moses, Joseph Smith and all others including ourselves, for after all does not the knowledge we recieve in the Temple only come after being seriously tried?
How blessed we are in this knowledge and how marvellous it is that by small and simple things, God fulfils His purposes in bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
'I will raise up another like unto thee.'
The late Hugh W Nibley is passionate in his praise for the Book of Moses which he points out was published in the same year as the Book of Mormon (1829, before the church was organised) and chapter 1 in the same month. But this document is so different in content, style and depth from the Book of Mormon. Nibley also expounds on how the theme of the chapter is commonly found in the writings of those of ancient times, ie:
1) God revealing Himself to a humble soul by revelation, who
2) is then left to be tested by Satan, who he defeats and so passes the test, after which
3) God reveals Himself again but this time to call him to his life’s mission and endowing him with a depth of knowledge that only He, the creator of all, can reveal.